Forecasters Taking a Second Stab at Hurricane Season

Forecasters Taking a Second Stab at Hurricane Season

Hurricane Irma starting to encroach on South Florida

This satellite image shows Hurricane Irma making its way through the Florida Straits and up toward the Sunshine State last September. The newly revised 2018 Atlantic hurricane season forecast is now calling for below-average activity.
Image courtesy of NASA

By nature, forecasts — of any type — are fluid. Much like the weather in many places, just wait a few minutes. It can and likely will change. While it took a little longer than a few minutes in this case, the newly updated 2018 Atlantic hurricane season forecast has a significantly different look compared to when it was released three months ago.

In early April, noted Colorado State University Climatologist Phil Klotzbach presented his team’s Extended Range Forecast, which called for above-average activity in the Atlantic basin (14 named storms; 7 hurricanes, 3 of which turning major). This came as unwelcome news for many still recovering from what was a historic 2017 campaign that featured the likes of Harvey, Irma, and Maria – to name a few.

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Klotzbach’s revised outlook predicts a different scenario playing out. According to the new report, he writes: “We have decreased our forecast and now believe that 2018 will have below-average activity. The tropical and subtropical Atlantic is currently much colder than normal, and the odds of a weak El Niño developing in the next several months have increased.”

Specifically, the updated numbers are now calling for 11 named storms; 4 hurricanes; and 1 major. Despite the tempered forecast, the threat still exists. And there’s plenty of time for conditions to modify. For example, the 1992 hurricane season got off to an extremely sluggish start, with its first named storm not coming until mid-August. That storm turned out to be Andrew. The Category 5 monster will go down as one of the most infamous for the U.S. and South Florida in particular.

[Updated July 6] Since Klotzbach’s revised forecast was released earlier this week, the tropics have stirred from slumber. The second named storm of the young season has formed in the south-central Atlantic. Beryl, which quickly ramped up from a tropical depression into a Category 1 hurricane, is expected to move west/northwest toward the Caribbean Sea and weaken before it reaches land. Of course, forecasters will be watching and providing updates as we go.